Published on Jul 13, 2010
Special thanks to Youtube user Orangino, whose Warriors' highlights I used to compile my footage.
Monta Ellis averaged 25.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 5.3 apg, and 2.2 spg in the 2009-2010 NBA season. In this, his first full season after returning from a severe ankle injury that limited him to only 25 games of action the year before, Ellis improved his game dramatically, as his stats rose in virtually every category. Most noteworthy was the augmentation in Ellis' point per game, as Monta averaged 6.5 ppg more than he had in 2009. This is the special focus of my (first) tribute to Monta Ellis.
Ellis' scoring binge during his 2009-2010 campaign should come as no surprise to anybody, seeing as how it was merely the continuation of an established trend wherein Ellis has elevated his performance each successive year since he came into the league in 2005. And while his field goal efficiency declined noticeably in 2010 from his stellar 2008 season (when he shot an outstanding-for-a-guard 53% from the field), Ellis was asked to do a lot more for the Warriors than he was in '08. And boy did he step up.
Whereas Ellis was able to somewhat sneak up on the league on a Warriors team that also included Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, and Al Harrington in 2008 with his dazzling display of speed and athleticism, Ellis was thrust into the forefront of the trenches in 2010 after all of those guys had departed through either trades or free agency. With an inexperienced Rookie in Stephen Curry starting alongside him in the backcourt, and an increasingly petulant injury epidemic enveloping the rest of the Warriors' youthful roster, the 24-year old 4-year veteran was saddled with the burden of carrying a team on the court every night. And when confronted with the new challenge of being put in the unfamiliar role of leader, Ellis responded to the call emphatically.
Though Ellis himself ended up missing 18 games in the home stretch of the season, there's little question that Ellis succeeded in rising to the occasion presented to him by his 2009-2010 circumstances. Monta led the league in minutes played for the majority of the season and recorded ten 48-minute games, while leading the Warriors in points, assists, and steals per game for most of the season. He averaged as much as 27 ppg at one point in the year, and proved to become a top 5 scorer (if only for a brief time), before ending the season number 6 in scoring while finishing second in the league in steals. There's no doubt in my mind Monta could've surprised everyone further and cracked the top 4 in scoring had he not been derailed by a bad flu and a setback with a sprained knee that forced him to miss games late in the year.
The reason why I compiled this highlight reel is because I feel like Monta had a special breakout year. Offensively, he had a coming-out party as the league's most electrifying player night in and night out. Ellis put on a show in 2009-2010, the like of which was already his precedent earlier in his career- with his acrobatic drives and spectacular finishes at the rim- but which had never previously been given the platform to shine so luminous as it did in 2010. If Ellis was quietly the league's most sensational young talent between 2007-2009, Ellis' coming-out party in the 2009-2010 season was like the extended/uncut version wherein Ellis was given full rein to light up the scoreboards, stat sheets, and nightly ESPN highlight reels.
The funny thing is that I don't believe this extraordinary performance was a fluke or apparition. It remains to be seen what tricks Monta Ellis will have in store for Warrior and NBA fans in the 2010-2011 season and beyond, but I believe Ellis is truly a one-of-a-kind talent. I have felt this way for 3 years now, and while I truly felt it was unfortunate when Monta seemingly sabotaged his career prospects in the 2008 offseason with his inexcusably poor use of judgment, I predicted in the 2009 offseason that Ellis was gonna explode in 2010 anyway, because of his ethereal talent and freakish athleticism, and I told my friends as much constantly. Ellis is just that good, I thought. One year later, and I'm not disappointed with my prediction one bit.
In fact, here's looking forward to Monta Ellis one-upping himself again next year. Smart money says Ellis is gonna end up somewhere among the top 3 scorers in the NBA in 2010-2011, while scoring upwards of 29-30 ppg on 50% shooting. He is afterall, in my opinion, the most prolific scorer in the game, with an offensive arsenal that seemingly contains 2,000 or so tricks (or moves). Here's hoping that by the end of next year, more people will appreciate the magician that is Monta Ellis as much as I do, and that more people will recognize him as the NBA's premier scorer.
Songs are Off the Wall and Don't Stop Til You Get Enough by Michael Jackson.